Monday, April 17, 2006

Independence Day

On the eve of the 26th commemoration of Zimbabwe's independence from colonial rule, I wonder if anyone in the country will observe the holiday with anything more than the customary day off. Even that won't mean much, 85% of Zimbabwe's able and willing workforce are jobless. There is very little independence left in the country, and there is even less to celebrate.

In hollow statements Arthur Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai, the two leaders of the MDC's bickering factions issued blurry calls for action from the Zimbabwean people.

In his first independence message to Zimbabwe, an ambitous Mutambara delves into details of his lofty plans to transform Zimbabwe's economy;
"Beyond recovery and survival we need to develop long term strategic initiatives, with sector specific programs, that enable Zimbabwe to emerge as an industrialized, technology driven, competitive nation, fully integrated into the global economy. We should use the existing capacity of Zimbabweans and their natural resources to compete through the design and construction of new and innovative products on the world market. While building upon our national core competencies such as agriculture, mining and tourism, emphasis should be on focused manufacturing and leveraging new technologies. These include wireless telecommunication (e.g. Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) and Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMax)), biotechnology, wireless power (e.g. fuel cells and solar-thermal), automation, nano-technology, micro-electronic and mechanical systems (MEMS), and electronic commerce. Some of these new technology platforms are cheaper and lend themselves better to countries with poor infrastructure than advanced countries. Hence, there is a unique opportunity for Zimbabwe to run where others walked. We can thus, leap-frog from the current economic crisis into the globally competitive and knowledge-based economy. Zimbabwe needs an effective science and technology strategy, rooted in regional integration and linked to forces of globalization."
While urging collegiality among Zimbabwe's civic organizations, Mutambara is consipicously mum about his frosty relationship with Tsvangirai. Notice, he has nothing to say to or about the other MDC. Trust me, it's not for a lack of things to say. Several members of his faction recently defected.

What I find even more galling is the absence of plan of action from the former student activist. One would think that given the background of Tsvangirai's succesfull rallies and widely publicized plans for mass actions Mutambara would use the independence platform to broadcast his alternative strategy. All says is,"the hour has come for us to reclaim our national birth right." What the Zimbabwean people want to know from you sir is just how we can do that.

While acknowledging that his prior calls for action have failed to yield results, Tsvangirai connects his failings to he calls Zimbabwe's long standing "march to democracy,"
For the record, allow me Zimbabweans to re-state that the march to tyranny can be traced to the early years of our Independence.

In a 24-page private letter in 1983 on the then emerging trend towards state-sanctioned brutality, the late Joshua Nkomo told Robert Mugabe: "Zimbabwe is defenceless today because the people live in fear, not of enemies, but their own government."

Six years later on 10 July 1989, the late Ndabaningi Sithole - in another letter to Mugabe said: "The exposure of the gross corruption of your most senior ministers and other government officials raises questions regarding the ability of the present government to run the country. The whole episode causes one to wonder whether we have a government or merely a gang of the most unscrupulous ever to be entrusted with the running of our country."
Tsvangirai has plans for the future, plans for state and people of Zimbabwe, but nothing for his own party. It is disengenous for Tsvangirai and Mutambara to postulate their overtures for the future of the country when neither can own up to the problems dogging their party.

In case they both don't realize this; all the problems facing the nation articulated in both the Tsvangirai and Mutambara speeches are patently obvious to all and sundry. The people are living in this sadistic reality everyday. It is also obvious that the people need an organized leader to galvanize the protest movement. What is not obvious is why and how they can both glaze over some pretty obvious problems in their party. Neither of them can be a solution to Zimbabwe's larger problems if they cannot solve the nation's smaller problems. Tsvangirai and Mutambara should address the differences that almost derailed their party if they want to be relevant to Zimbabwe's future. The separatist kind of politics they are flirting with are exactly what brought ZANU-PF and the country to where it is today.

Read Mutambara's statement here. Read Tsvangirai's statement here.

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